I don't know about you, but this is the time of year when I get bored with the same food I've been cooking all winter. I want something a little different. Exotic even.
Yesterday I stopped by Savenor's, a butcher shop in Boston's Beacon Hill, and I was not disappointed. Of course, there was the usual pork, beef, chicken, and lamb, all cuts. There was duck, Cornish game hens, venison, and goat. They had the obligatory corned beef for St. Patrick's Day, but hasn't that been a little overplayed? How about trying something new for your Irish boiled dinner?
Here's a list of alternatives from Savenor's most interesting selections:
For the Irish immigrants who arrived here by way of the Rio Grande, how about some bone-in iguana? What does iguana taste like? I'm sure you can guess. Chicken, of course. In Puerto Rico, iguanas are called gallinas de palo (chickens of the trees).
Here we have some python fillets from Vietnam. I have to admit, I never thought snakes had much meat on them. I thought they were just a thin layer of skin surrounding a long, empty tube with the occasional bulge where a rodent was being digested whole. But then, according to my hypothesis, snakes would never be able to move around. I also assumed snakes were boneless—a boon to lazy meat-eaters like me. Wrong again! Check this out. (Ideas like these are why I flunked out of my biology classes in college.)
If you're worried about food miles and cage sizes, a great alternative to python is domestic free-range rattlesnake. It ain't cheap, but why should it be? If hunters have to chase these fanged, angry, venomous snakes halfway across the desert, you're going to pay a hefty price. Fair wages for the rattlesnake wranglers!
For a taste of the bayou, let's not overlook alligator sirloin. The young lady at the register said it tastes like frog legs. That's not helpful if you've never had frog legs, but since I have, let me break it down even further: imagine an amphibious cross between fish and—you guessed it—chicken. But this isn't just any chicken-fish. This is "sirloin" of chicken-fish. A veritable slab of tender, juicy meat you can really sink your teeth into. And if anyone knows the satisfaction of sinking their teeth into a giant slab of tender, juicy meat, it's an alligator. Turnabout is fair play, my reptilian friend.
Finally, if you're looking for something that doesn't taste like chicken (or chicken-fish), consider kangaroo meat. I know, I know. They're so cute and bouncy and the pouches—let's not forget the pouches! But apparently they're real pests in the same way that deer can be destructive in large numbers. The Aussies enjoy their kangaroo meat (although there seems to be some disagreement about the proper way to spell kangaroo on the label). My source said kangaroo meat tastes like any other red meat, and it's not super-gamey like venison.
So think about mixing up the repertoire this St. Paddy's day. And maybe—if you have the luck of the Irish on your side—your guests won't kill you!